Fourth of July

On this beautiful 4th of July day, I am thankful to my soldier friends who have taught me just how costly and wonderful my freedom is. Thank you for your sacrifice, for your bravery, for your sense of humor, and for your willingness to put everything on the line so that silly girls like me can live a life free of oppression.
Here’s to fireworks and ice cream and hot summer days in the pool with good friends and family. God bless America.

The Luncheon

Today I had 17 people over for Easter lunch. It was a blast! One of my joys in life is throwing parties. It’s right up there with Christmas and getting a tax refund.
I did my best to decorate in Martha Stewart style… check out the floral centerpieces… I made them myself (total cost for four of them… less than $20)…

Everybody brought a dish… I’ve never seen so much food in one place. It was a regular feast.

It was such a good day… I am so blessed to have the best family in the whole world, and some pretty cool friends that sometimes feel like they’re part of my family. 

Happy Easter, and praise Jesus for all that this day means. 

2008 In Review

This may become a New Year tradition… I started this a year ago. Boy how things have changed! (and some things haven’t changed at all!)

Here’s a look back at 2008. It was a doozie.

Where did you begin 2008? I hosted an impromptu New Years party at my house. I think we decided to throw the party around 6pm that night. This year, I’m throwing one with a bit more planning. Disco ball, strobe lights, Dance Dance Revolution, and all.

Were you in school this year? I took four graduate classes this year… School was really tough, but I was also blessed to earn FREE tuition, plus a stipend (aka—Cruise Money), plus a trip to Miami! With five classes left (I’ve taken seven), I should finish this masters in December 2009 or May 2010. Praise the Lord. Oh, and I spoke to a bunch of junior high classes about the importance of going to college, choosing a career in advertising, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. And I serve on a board for the school district, which technically is sort of school-related.

Where did you go on vacation? My sister and I jaunted over to NYC for a mini-trip smack full of Yankee games, pedicures, shopping, and Broadway. It was absolutely fantastic. I am super excited about my Mediterranean Cruise in summer 2009!

Favorite Books from 2008? I devoured Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Definitely the best book of my year, every girl should read that book. I also read three or four Anita Shreve novels (I want to write like her someday). And a book on hearing God speak, which turned into a whole Sunday School series. There were others, I just don’t remember the titles. I wish I could have read more, but I also read about 10 million journal articles for school, which tend to suck the life out of me. And, I read 52 issues of TIME Magazine cover-to-cover. Okay, and 52 issues of US Weekly, but that doesn’t make me sound nearly as sophisticated.

Did you know anybody who got married? Jim and Tiffany, Scott and Cassandra, Jason and Ginger… I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. And my sister Lindsay got engaged!

 Did you move anywhere? Oh thank goodness, no.

 What sporting events did you attend? About a million Rangers games, a couple of Stars games (including a playoff game), the Mavs home opener, a Yankee game in New York, two marathon events, and a minor league hockey game. Plus, I played a little tennis, golf, flag football, sand volleyball, and played on my church softball team. I spent most of my free time this year outside playing sports.

Describe your birthday: I had a retro roller skating party with about 25 friends from church. I felt like a kid again, which is exactly how a girl should feel on her 28th birthday. I loved that night.

What’s something you learned about yourself? I was reminded once again that my family is the greatest ever. They are such a blessing, I am so thankful to have a family that is supportive, fun, entertaining, unconditionally loving, and willing to do anything to take care of each other. Plus, they’re all very strong Christians. My family rocks.

I learned how important it is to care for others when they’re hurting. Watching my sister recover from major surgery this fall showed me how important it is to not only rally around someone when they have surgery (or a death, or another traumatic experience), but to stick around and continue to check on them in the weeks following. People tend to step up in the immediate, but later tend to forget about the person who is hurting. I think people just don’t know what to do.

I learned that God keeps his promises… and I learned that scripture is very clear about that if you’ll just pay attention. All year long I wrote these promises down in my prayer journal and meditated on them… it got me through a lot of tough times. I am constantly reminded of just how fantastic my God really is.

Any new additions to your family? I’ll be getting a new brother-in-law next June. It will be so weird to have a BOY in our family full of girls! Luckily he’s really cool, so he’ll fit right in. I’m really excited for my sister.

Made new friends? My prayer this year was for God to bring me some more girlfriends… and he delivered! Don’t you love it when God answers your prayers? 

Favorite Night out? Some of my favorite nights were when I got to sit on my porch, relax, and look at the stars. This year was so absurdly busy with school and work that those nights were a rare treat. I also loved all the afternoons/evenings when my friends would play outside… softball, tennis, flag football, sand volleyball… I have developed a real craving for the outdoors.

Something else I loved this year was having close friends live in my neighborhood. Just last weekend, two called me up and invited me to take our dogs for a walk. Once a month my neighborhood friends organize a dinner party. I absolutely love being two minutes away from a friend, being able to carpool to a party or have an impromptu dinner together. My parents have kept in touch with some of their church and neighborhood friends from back when they were my age… and it makes me wonder if some of these friends will turn out to be those same kinds of life-long friends. I sure hope so.

What do you want to change in 2009? I had three break-ups in the first six months of 2008 (is that some sort of record?), so I’m going to vote for none in 2009. Or less than three. I think that’s achievable. Or maybe I should at least spread them out in different zip codes or something.

What would you change about 2008? I don’t think I would have changed much. Parts of this year were really fantastic… professionally it was one of my best years ever. Even the parts that weren’t very fun helped me to grow and mature, and I learned a lot about myself and what I want to do with my life.

What random cool things happened in 2008? (New Question This Year!)

-I was quoted in USA Today, my local newspaper (plus papers in Florida, Oklahoma, New Mexico), interviewed by multiple radio stations (one in-studio with the DJs!), and did some on-camera interviews for our local news. Plus, I worked behind-the-scenes on dozens of stories for all sorts of media outlets. It was a fun year at work.

-I taught classes on media buying, advertising, and corporate communications at TCU and UTA… I rediscovered how much I love teaching.

-I ran a half marathon! Who would have thought that the lazy girl with asthma who hated running would ever accomplish that?!

-I revived my passion for teaching Sunday School. I have always enjoyed it, but this year I became hungrier than ever before to teach, and to show my girls the difference between a limiting faith filled with “no’s” and rules and an empowering faith filled with grace and freedom. I realized this concept several years ago, and I have never been the same.

Other than home, where did you spend most of your time? I spent a lot of time running at the park, preparing for my half marathon. I really do love running at the park… it’s a nice balance to a stressful day. I was never an outdoor runner until this year, but now a treadmill seems so boring… I need a trail through the woods or by a lake.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution? Yes, but I won’t tell until next week.

Do anything embarrassing? This is me we’re talking about… life wouldn’t be fun if it weren’t filled with wonderfully embarrassing moments! In the last week I set my hair on fire at the Christmas Eve candlelight service, and I knocked over a candle (because I knocked over the table it was sitting on) in Sunday School and almost burned the place down. And that was only the last week of December.

What was your favorite purchase? I really like my new MacBook, filled with all my Adobe programs and my newly discovered iMovie. So many fun toys to play with. And I’m super excited about the curtains and rug I just bought for my living room and dining room. I shopped for TWO YEARS before making the purchase. They’ll be delivered next week!, and my windows will no longer be naked!

Did you get sick this year? I was extremely healthy all year. What a blessing.

Start a new hobby? I learned how to quilt! Oh, and all that running.

Are you happy to see 2008 go? Oh my goodness, yes. Goodbye, and good riddance, my friend! I plan to kick some major bootie in 2009. Hold on to your seats, folks.

What are you wishing for in 2009? Lot’s of good memories, a fabulous trip to Europe, a fun wedding for my sister, and possibly a graduation from grad school! And I look forward to all sorts of unplanned adventures… welcome 2009!

Now, my blogging friends, it’s your turn. Tell me about your year in review… I can’t wait to read it!

Weekend Wrap-Up

I’ve had such a good weekend. Friday night I got a pedicure with my sister and another friend, and then the three of us, plus one more, met up for a quiet dinner. It was so nice… just laid back, lot’s of laughing, comfortable shoes… I love nights like that. The pedicure place used a chocolate exfoliator thing on my legs… you haven’t lived until you’ve had a stranger rub chocolate on your legs as you sit in a massage chair sipping a cappuccino. Hmmm… that sounds a bit racier than it really was. After the pedicure, I felt like a new woman. A new woman with dark purple toenails… again. The edginess is back. And maybe here to stay.

Then Saturday I spent the whole day cooking and cleaning to prepare for a shower I hosted tonight for sister Lindsay (the one getting married). I absolutely love the preparation that goes into throwing a party. I like the cleaning up afterward part a lot less. Saturday night I turned my iPod on “shuffle” (yes, the iPod magically works again), and cooked for hours. I cooked for the party, and also made Christmas goodies for some of my favorite coworkers. Since they put up with me for another year (almost five, actually), I figure they deserve some baked goods.

I did such a good job of preparing yesterday that today I was able to sneak in a quick nap after church. A nap on a party day is so very rare, and it was just the thing I needed to keep me going through the party. The party went fantastically well, many of my sister’s bridesmaids, old roommates, and friends from childhood came by, along with some of her new family members. It’s weird to see that my sister is going to have NEW family members… new sisters-in-law. Part of me finds the whole situation a bit strange, but I’m thankful that these new family members seem to be strong Christian women who treat her well, so I guess it’s okay to share her a little.

So it was a good weekend. I got to spend quality time with friends and family, got rubbed down with chocolate, danced in my kitchen and ate large quantities of cake. Yes, it was a very good weekend.


In honor of Thanksgiving, here is a list of things I’m thankful for:

  • My savior, Jesus, who loves me when I don’t deserve it, and who is more powerful that I will ever be able to understand.
  • I have the most awesome family. Ever. You may think your family is cool, but I’m convinced that mine may be better. They’re just really wonderful. And they make me laugh.
  • I have a job that I love. It allows me to help people when they’re sick and hurting. I get paid to work with local charities. I get to be creative and think outside the box every day. Every once in awhile I get to be on TV or in the paper. And I have fantastic bosses and coworkers. I’m so thankful for this, since it’s where I spend most of my time.
  • I got free tuition for grad school this semester. In fact, they even paid me a stipend. That’s spending money that I wasn’t expecting, not to mention that I saved about $6,000 in tuition this fall. That’s huge.
  • I have a really great church. They don’t just talk a good game, the folks there are mission-minded, outward-focused, and passionate about people. They’re not preachy, yet they’ve got such an obvious faith. I’m so proud to serve with them.
  • I got to make some new friends this year. Some came from unexpected places. Funny how that works.
  • I’m really healthy. So healthy that I get to run a half-marathon in two weeks. A lot of folks don’t have the opportunity to do that.
  • I have a home. One that I built, so it’s exactly the way I want it. Even though I’ve only lived here two years, I already have a lot of good memories here.
  • I get to travel a lot. This year I went to New York. Next year I’m going to Europe, and possibly Miami. I’ve gotten to see a lot of neat places since I got out of school.
  • I’m debt free. That’s a huge blessing.
  • I have a really cool dog.
  • I live in America, which means I have the freedom to do just about anything I want to do. I realize that freedom didn’t come without a cost. I’m thankful for that.
And I’m thankful that I have a warm bed waiting for me. Goodnight!

Fa la la la la

It may be a week before Thanksgiving, but it’s never too early to decorate for Christmas. I lit a fire in the fire place, cranked up the Christmas music, baked a home-made molten chocolate cake, and tackled those decorations. 

We found Harley the Wonder Schnoodle’s Santa costume when we were unpacking decorations. He absolutely hates this outfit… I suspect because it’s made from cheap polyester, which probably doesn’t feel good on his skin. But when I put it on him, he cowers, sulks, pouts, and gives me mean, hateful looks until I take it off of him. I should probably be more sympathetic, but it’s hilarious to watch, so we pulled out the camera to document his disgust. I don’t know if you can tell from his body language, but my roommate was trying to get him to look at her while she took the photo, and he stubbornly refused. This is Harley’s “I hate you both” look. Isn’t it adorable?

Happy Easter

I hosted my second annual family Easter lunch at my new house today. It was a lot of fun, and now I’m absolutely stuffed. I think I ate five times my body weight, but it was worthy every pound that may go straight to my rear end.

Here’s a run-down of what I served

1. brisket
2. honey baked ham (mom brought both meats… thanks mom!)
3. potato casserole (my favorite!)
4. stuffed mushrooms
5. vegetable casserole
6. fruit salad (an ex-boyfriend’s mom’s recipe… that recipe long outlasted the boy)
7. corn casserole
8. devilled eggs
9. bread
10. pecan pie
11. apple crisp pie (both pies made by sister Lindsay FROM SCRATCH! and they were FABULOUS!)

Tomorrow I’ll hit the gym to make up for eating all that food. But not before I indulge in left-over pecan pie for breakfast.

Painting party

My ever-growing home-improvement project continues. Yesterday two very sweet guys came over and helped me paint 64 feet of dental crown molding. The “dental” part of the crown molding meant we had to paint the intricate pieces with a TINY paint brush. It added about three hours to an otherwise simple project, but doing it with other people made it fun (and I learned all sorts of interesting “guy opinions” on various topics). As a thank-you, I treated them to Sonic milk shakes and a home-cooked dinner. I figure I came out ahead.

This afternoon I’m changing gears and will become a lean, mean cooking machine. I’m hosting our family’s Easter Lunch tomorrow after church, and I’m very excited. I had to resist the urge to go buy more dishes and decorations for my 10 guests (because all of my money has gone toward stone and crown molding), but I think it will still be nice with what I have. I’ll crank up my music, put on my cute-and-frilly apron (hand-made by sister Sarah!) and cook for the next few hours. I’ll feel just like Martha Stuart (except the vegetables for my vegetable casserole came from the frozen section of Target instead of from my organic beet farm in the backyard). Okay, maybe I’m more like Rachel Ray. Whatever. It will still be fun!